Sunday, May 29, 2011

Synge Snippet: There could be no more terror in my life

I seemed to traverse whole epochs of desolation and bliss. All secrets were open before me, and simple as the universe to its God. Now and then something recalled my physical life, and I smiled at what seemed a moment of sickly infancy. At other times I felt I might return to earth, and laughed aloud to think what a god I should be among men. For there could be no more terror in my life. I was a light, a joy.

- From "Under Ether," Synge's essay recollecting of the effects of the anesthetic given to him during his neck surgery in 1897.

Synge grew up sickly (from asthma), and this was the first of a few surgeries he underwent to remove a swelling in his neck, which was diagnosed too late as a lymphoma. He seems to have lived with much physical discomfort, and probably a lot of fear from not knowing what was wrong with him.

This was the year before Synge went to Aran, when he witnessed the islanders' strength against the elements firsthand, and was moved by their relationship to mortality. It no doubt made him reflect on his own.

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